As with any sport, there is a whole retail culture built around having the right, “must have” swimming gear. Much of this, of course, is just hype. Be it a certain brand of swimming suit or owning all of the related swimming accessories, retail companies are constantly vying for your attention – and your dollars.
So you may be asking: when it comes to swimming gear, what are the essentials? What factors should you consider when buying so you are sure to go home satisfied with your purchase?
As we discussed in a previous post, there are many different options when it comes to goggles. The tint of the lenses, the type, and style of strap, the style, fit, and price are all factors that should be considered when purchasing goggles.
Essential: The most important factor is that your goggles have a good seal, thereby protecting your eyes and keeping your vision clear. And, of course, it’s terribly important that you remember to wear goggles any time you’re in the pool.
Nonessential: Some companies market that their goggles reduce drag in the water. However, there is not much research available that supports (or refutes) those claims. When buying goggles, focus on the way they fit. Find what’s right for you.
When buying a swimming suit, once again, it’s important not to merely focus on the sales pitch. Many swimming suit companies promise that their suit will improve your performance. However, this may not actually be the case.
Essential: Before you buy, be sure to research brands, as well as read product reviews from people who have actually purchased the suit. Also, consider the material from which the suit is made. If this is a suit that you plan on wearing on a daily basis, be sure that it is made from a material that is going to last.
The biggest thing to consider when buying a suit is the fit.
- Torso: The torso of your swimwear should lie perfectly flat on the body without extra gathering at the seams or pulling from any straps/openings. Keep in mind that the higher spandex content of competitive swimsuits generally allows for a flat fit. However, you still need to be sure that the suit is not too tight; test this by checking that you can move around comfortably in your swimsuit without any uncomfortable pulling from the leg openings, straps, or around your neck.
- Legs: In order to be sure that the leg openings of a competitive swimsuit are the right size, check that elastic straps are not puckering or digging into your legs. If the suit is digging into your legs, you may want to try a larger suit size. Also, be sure to check the backside of the suit to ensure it offers appropriate, comfortable coverage. If you require more coverage than a certain style of suit offers, try a different style rather than a different size.
- Shoulder straps: The straps on your swimsuit should lie comfortably on your shoulders – without falling down or digging into your skin. Also, when trying on a suit, be sure to rotate your arms a few times to ensure that your arms are comfortable in all positions.
- Chest/bust: The bust of your swimsuit should have plenty of coverage without flattening the chest entirely. Also, look for a suit with adjustable straps to find a fit that will ensure you feel secure. Before buying, rotate your arms a few times in front of a mirror – being sure that all positions provide adequate chest coverage. No one wants to have a “wardrobe malfunction” at the pool!
Nonessential: Be sure that your suit is not too loose or too tight – fit is key, and you absolutely don’t want to be stuck with a swimming suit that you can’t use. Also, depending on your swimming goals, it may not be necessary for you to spend the big bucks on a bodysuit. While wearing one in competition might shave a fraction of a second off your time, wearing one for daily conditioning and training is not likely to make a difference and therefore may not worth the hefty price tag.
Swim caps are an item frequently worn in competitive swimming, including triathlons. Wearing a swim cap has many benefits, including protecting your hair from harsh pool chemicals; keeping your hair out of your face, as well as reducing drag your hair may cause; keeping your warm when swimming in cold conditions; protecting you from harmful UV rays if swimming outside; and protecting you from swimmers’ ear.
Essential: When buying a swim cap, consider your budget. Caps are available in different materials (including cloth, latex, and silicon) and at different price points. Try on a swim caps before you buy to determine what feels right for you.
Nonessential: Just because a cap has a high price tag doesn’t mean that it is going to necessarily improve your performance. While silicon caps are popular among professional swimmers, don’t nix latex and cloth. Also, keep in mind that if you have long hair, latex caps can pull your hair when removed.
Nose Clips and Earplugs
There are mixed reviews on the necessity of nose clips. While some swimmers swear by using them every time they’re in the pool, others feel that they are for “beginners only.”
If you are prone to swimmer’s ear (an infection in the outer ear canal, often brought on by water that remains in the ear after swimming), then wearing earplugs is a good idea. As children have narrower ear canals, they are more susceptible to swimmer’s ear.
If you are preparing to make a swimming-related purchase, we would like to invite you to visit the Parrot Sports Gear showroom at 6100 Wilmington Pike, Dayton, OH (Inside Hot Spring Spa). Come into our store, try out our products, and find out first hand what equipment is right for you.
Parrot Sports Gear is a leader in swim supplies with a unique line of activewear by TYR Swimwear. Visit our online store today!